CAPCO Driver Among Top Fuel Favorites in Countdown

September 13, 2016 -- Lately it seems like national record-holder Steve Torrence has been out of sync, by just a nanosecond, with the high performance universe over which he has reigned for much of this season at the at the wheel of the Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition Top Fuel dragster.

In a right time, right place kind of sport, the 33-year-old title contender has been a wrong time, wrong place kind of guy – at least over the last couple of months. 

Fortunately, there still is time for the pendulum to swing in his favor beginning with this week’s ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, the first race in the NHRA’s Countdown to the 2016 Mello Yello Championship.

Although he has won two of the NHRA tour “majors” this season, prevailing in the season-opening
Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and the Summernationals at Englishtown, N.J., the talented Texan can’t help but agonize over the “what might have beens” in three other events in which he lost final round showdowns by less than .021 of a second.

The most recent of those “close, but no cigar” moments came two weeks ago in drag racing’s biggest single event, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., a race in which he lost the title to eight-time series champion Tony Schumacher by .006 of a second, a margin virtually indiscernible to the naked eye.

That was two days after he was beaten by .003 of a second in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout with a 1,000 foot time that was quicker than that posted by every other driver in the race – except the one against whom he was paired in the first round.

“You have to get past all the ‘what ifs’ and just remember that there were 14 other drivers who would have given anything just to race in that final,” he said of his latest U.S. Nationals disappointment.  “Indy was extra tough because it was our third runner-up (finish) in the last four years.  But that’s part of it.  You just have to move on and remember that you’re taking a great race car into the Countdown.” 

How good have Torrence and his Richard Hogan-led Capco team been this season?  Well, in 67 qualifying sessions, they’ve put up the quickest time in 30 and have been top three in 46.  No one else has been anywhere near as consistent at such a high level. 

Significantly, Torrence has started eight of 17 races from No. 1 and, in his last 14 starts, has qualified no worse than fifth despite the fact that he was forced to withdraw from one event because of a health issue apparently triggered by his teenage battle with Hodgkins lymphoma.

Although he excelled in taekwondo, works out every day and is the apparent picture of health at 5-7 and 150 pounds, Torrence suffered a mild heart attack last June while preparing for the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio.   Doctors attributed it to a vulnerability created by radiation treatments during his cancer battle.

For the former Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion (2005), it was just another reminder to continue to live every day to the fullest because “nothing is guaranteed.”


# # #